To leash or not to leash

We’ve all come across parents who take their kids out on a leash (sometimes disguised as a cute animal backpack). Some of us may see this as a ‘normal’ thing that parents need to do to keep their inquisitive kids safe, while the rest of us are totally against it. But is it really such a bad idea to put your kids on a leash?

We came across this rather peculiar picture posted up on STOMP, where a reader saw a child with a rope that appeared to be attached to his shirt. The other end of the rope was tied around his mother’s waist.

leash on children

Is it right for parents to use a leash on children? (Photo Source:

Call it a DIY leash or something to that effect, but this picture made my mind go wild with questions. I wonder what drove mum to attach that makeshift rope to her little boy, in what appeared to be a playground in a housing area. Shouldn’t kids be allowed to run free and explore in ‘safe’ places like the playground outside your block?

The short write-up also came with a gallery of images showing other instances of parents putting a leash on children. In contrast to the main picture, the other images of kids on leashes (the proper kind of leashes, and one even came with a cute animal backpack) were taken at public places like shopping malls.

Is it right for parents to use a leash on children? Find out on page 2…

Two sides to the leash

Leashes for kids are hardly a new trend, but it’s a hot topic that has got parents divided. Some parents think leashes do come in handy, especially when it involves keeping a hyperactive child close to you in public areas. And then there are others who are totally against leashes.

leash on children

To some parents, leashes on children may not be such a bad thing after all. It helps to make sure that their kids do not stray too far away in public places, and get lost in the crowd. (Photo Source:

As a parent, I think there are both good and bad points of leashes. While I can’t picture myself using one on my little one (not yet anyway, but I’ll revisit this thought when my toddler gets to the up and running stage), I can see how some parents may find them beneficial.

Child psychologist Tina Bryson explained the reason why some parents choose to leash their kids. “A lot of times the parents who are using it [do so] because it’s based on a child’s behaviour that they’ve seen.” She believes that parents who do not have an over-active, adventurous kid won’t understand why a parent would use a leash, but many parents see it as a safety precaution – not a prison sentence.

Under what circumstances should a child leash be used? More on the next page…

To leash responsibly

leash on children

Having a leash on children can help to keep them safe during family vacations and outings to crowded places.

In situations like family vacations and outings to crowded places, it is undeniable that a child leash can prove to be useful. However, it shouldn’t be treated as an alternative to keeping a close watch on your kids. It should merely be a supervisory supplement to keep your child safe – so that you don’t end up losing her in the sea of people in the event that she decides that it would be ‘more fun’ to wander away from mum and dad.

If you are considering to use a child leash, here are a few simple guidelines to help you keep things in the right perspective:

1.     Make sure your child agrees to leash

Like yourself, your child is a person with opinions about the things that surround her. If you decide to use a child leash, do ensure that you both agree that this would make things safer and an outing more enjoyable. So, basically she’d have to agree to want to wear it – it’s a good thing that many of the backpacks-with-leashes come in pretty cute forms these days (think, bears, monkeys and Elmo).

If at any point that your child changes her mind about wearing the leash, do let her choose to either agree to safe and appropriate behaviour without it – or simply agree to put it back on.

2.     It’s not meant to guide

Always remember your main intention of using the leash: to ensure that your child does not get separated from you in crowded and unfamiliar places. So, it should never be used to lead or guide your child, like you would do with a pet dog. Let your child know that she can always tell you if there is something that she would like to see or do at any point during your outing.

3.     Use only when necessary

Some kids may be more manageable than others, and are willing to follow ground rules for safe exploration. But just because your child is willing to wear the leash doesn’t mean that you should keep it on all the time. Use this chance to help them practice being on their best behaviour while being out and about – in no time, you just might be able to enjoy outings without the need for a leash.

4.     Continue to supervise

Some parents may think that having their little ones on leashes help to ‘free up’ their hands while they focus on other things. Do remember that a child leash is not a free ticket to let your guard down. You should still keep a close watch of your tot’s every movement in public, because being curious and adventurous at this stage, there’s a chance that they would touch things and get themselves into trouble. (Think, rows of canned food falling off shelves in the supermarket!)

Do you use a child leash? Tell us in the poll below, and share your experiences with us in the comments box!

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Written by

Justina Goh

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